23 Best Nigerian Writers Every Writer Should Know About

Discover the best Nigerian writers in our comprehensive guide to learn about Nigerian literature and find your next favorite novel.

Nigerian literature includes works in a wide range of genres, including poetry, novels, plays, and short stories. The country’s literature often examines identity, tradition, colonialism, post-colonialism, and rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Nigeria has produced some of the most interesting and award-winning authors. Throughout time, Nigerian authors have come to be recognized for their literary and artistic talents. Many Nigerian authors have gained international recognition for their work, and Nigerian literature is considered to have significantly contributed to the global literary landscape.

1. Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe via Wikipedia, Public Domain

It is impossible to talk about African writers, including Nigerian writers, without mentioning Chinua Abe. He is one of the most popular Nigerian writers and is often called the father of Nigerian literature. The Nigerian government tried to promote him to a leadership position within the government twice, but he refused them both times. He refused to join the government because he disagreed with the oppressive policies instituted by the Federal government.

There are plenty of excellent books to explore, but one of the best is Things Fall Apart. Published in 1958, this book tells the story of a conflict between European colonizers and Native Nigerian traditions. The book focuses on societal values, cultural norms, and how Nigerian culture changed due to European colonization.

Things Fall Apart
  • Chinua..Things fall apart...Chinua, Fiction, Things fall apart...
  • ISBN:0385474547
  • Printed in the United States of America 23 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
  • Achebe, Chinua (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

2. Femi Osofisan

Femi Osofisan
Femi Osofisan via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Like numerous other Nigerian writers, the work of Femi Osofisan focuses on colonialism and its impact on Nigeria. Even though Nigeria is an independent country, the legacy of colonialism still runs deep. He focuses on the complex history of his country and uses powerful metaphors to communicate his point.

For example, one of his most famous works is Women of Owu, published in 2004. This is a unique story that retells the story of Euripedes but from the perspective of Nigeria and the Owu Kingdom. The Owu Kingdom was in power from 1821 to 1826. Femi Osofisan is one of the most celebrated Nigerian writers of all time.

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Women of Owu
  • Women of Owu
  • Books Subjects Literature Fiction Dramas Plays Regional Cultural African Books Subjects Literature Fiction Dramas Plays General
  • Product Type: ABIS BOOK
  • Brand: Ibadan University Press
  • Osofisan, Femi (Author)

3. Sefi Atta

Sefi Atta
Sefi Atta via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Sefi Atta is a writer known for her attention to detail and extreme emotion. She has the unique ability to incorporate a wide variety of themes in her work, all of them creating a subtle undertone that is easy to overlook. Her skill is perfectly displayed even in her first novel, published in 2005, called Everything Good Will Come

Everything Good Will Come takes place in Nigeria when the military was in charge and ran the country as a dictatorship. It discusses what it is like for a girl to come of age in such a challenging environment.

Everything Good Will Come
  • paperback
  • Atta, Sefi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 11/10/2007 (Publication Date) - Interlink Books (Publisher)

4. Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Next, you might also want to learn more about Wole Soyinka. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986 and was the first African writer to receive the award. Much of his writing focuses on the exploitation of Africa by other countries, using a wide variety of metaphors to communicate his powerful point. He also writes about the issues of oppression still rife throughout the African continent.

He discusses oppression by both African leaders and European colonizers. His work has been so powerful that Nigerian leaders have even sentenced him to death in absentia. If you are interested in exploring his work, you may want to check out You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir. This is a book that focuses on his own experiences, thoughts, and memoirs.

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You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir
  • Soyinka, Wole (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 03/13/2007 (Publication Date) - Random House Trade Paperbacks (Publisher)

5. Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta
Buchi Emecheta via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Buchi Emecheta was born in Lagos and is of Igbo descent. Eventually, she moved to London, where she lived with her husband. They had been engaged to each other since they were young and eventually had five children; however, her husband was a violent man with a short temper. As a result, she had to leave him and take her children with her. 

It should be no surprise that many of her works focus on the impact this left on her. One of her most famous works is called The Joys of Motherhood, which focuses on a woman who is validated in seeing her children go up and be successful. She was also given the title OBE in 2005.

The Joys of Motherhood
  • Emechta, Buchi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 09/04/2008 (Publication Date) - Pearson (Publisher)

6. Teju Cole

Teju Cole
Teju Cole via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Teju Cole was born in the United States but is of Nigerian descent. His family moved back to Nigeria, where he was raised, but he eventually moved back to the United States and settled in Brooklyn. Because he had such a diverse upbringing, it is also reflected in his work.

He has enjoyed a career as a novelist, artist, historian, and photographer. He has also won numerous awards for his work, including Open City, published in 2011. This novel is set in New York a few years after 9/11 and focuses on a character who wanders throughout the city, trying to find his way.

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Open City: A Novel
  • Cole, Teju (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 259 Pages - 01/17/2012 (Publication Date) - Random House Trade Paperbacks (Publisher)

7. Ben Okri

Ben Okri
Ben Okri via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Ben Okri is one of the most popular Nigerian writers of all time. He is different from many other Nigerian writers because he is a postmodern writer whose works are best described as magical realism. His goal is to focus on myths, ancestors, spirits, and other mythical creatures that may play a role in our world. One of his most famous works is a trilogy called Songs of Enchantment and Infinite Riches. This book focuses on the journey of a character named Azaro, the story’s spirit, child, and narrator. 

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8. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is an essayist who won her first writing award at 13. She has contributed to CNN, the Guardian, the BBC, and the New York Times during her career. One of her most famous works is I Do Not Come to You By Chance. This is an irreverent novel that also focuses on the challenges of finding work in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the protagonist eventually turns to scams.

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I Do Not Come to You by Chance
  • Nwaubani, Adaobi Tricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 402 Pages - 05/05/2009 (Publication Date) - Hachette Books (Publisher)

9. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the youngest Nigerian authors, but her career is growing quickly. She has already written a few novels, many of which have won awards. Much of her work focuses on her country’s unique political atmosphere and its impact on people’s relationships.

One of her most famous stories is called Purple Hibiscus, which tells the story of a family involved in plotting a political coup against the Nigerian government. The story also focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Nigerian people that led to the plight of its citizens. It is a gripping, powerful, and emotional story that provides an inside look at life in Nigeria in the wake of colonial rule.

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Purple Hibiscus: A Novel
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 04/17/2012 (Publication Date) - Algonquin Books (Publisher)

10. Helon Habila

Helon Habila
Helon Habila via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Helon Habila is a Nigerian writer who graduated from the University of Jos in 1995. Initially, he worked as a lecturer before becoming a writer for a local magazine. In 2002, he moved to England and joined the University of East Anglia as an African fellow. 

His first published novel is called Waiting for an Angel, and it focuses on a variety of narratives that focus on what life is like for someone living under the dictatorial rule of the military government in Nigeria. The book won the Commonwealth Writers’ prize, launching his career as a writer.

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Waiting for An Angel: A Novel
  • Habila, Helon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 01/17/2004 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

11. Oyinkan Braithwaite, 1988 –

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a Nigerian-British novelist and short story writer. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Braithwaite’s debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was published in 2018 and became a bestseller. The novel tells the story of two sisters in Lagos, one of whom is a serial killer, and the complex relationship between them. 

Braithwaite’s second novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, was published in 2020 and received critical acclaim. This novel tells the story of a young man in Nigeria who dies under mysterious circumstances and the impact of his death on his family and community.

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Braithwaite, Oyinkan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 228 Pages - 11/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

12. Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, 1988 –

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up in the city. Adébáyọ̀ received a degree in medicine from the University of Ibadan and worked as a doctor before turning to writing. Adébáyọ̀’ss debut novel, Stay With Me, was published in 2017 and received rave reviews. The novel tells the story of a couple living in Lagos and their struggle to have a child and explores love, marriage, and family themes. 

Adébáyọ̀’ss writing often deals with themes of identity, family, and relationships. In addition to her novels, she has also published a collection of short stories. Adébáyọ̀ has received several awards for her writing, including the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Stay with Me: A novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Adebayo, Ayobami (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 259 Pages - 08/22/2017 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

13. Tomi Adeyemi, 1993 –

Tomi Adeyemi
Tomi Adeyemi via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach. Adeyemi’s debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone, was published in 2018 and became a bestseller. The novel is the first in a fantasy trilogy and tells the story of a young woman in a kingdom where magic has been suppressed and her efforts to bring magic back to her people.

Adeyemi’s second novel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, was published in 2019, and the third novel in the trilogy, Children of Hope, was published in 2021. Adeyemi is known for combining elements of fantasy and African mythology. She is also known for her activism and work promoting diversity in literature.

Adeyemi has received several awards for her writing, including theWaterstone’ssChildren’ss Book Prize. Looking for other best authors from the nearby countries of Nigeria? Check out our round-up of the best Cameroonian authors.

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Adeyemi, Tomi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 537 Pages - 03/06/2018 (Publication Date) - Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (Publisher)

14. Chigozie Obioma, 1986 –

Chigozie Obioma
Chigozie Obioma via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Chigozie Obioma received a degree in English literature from the University of Nigeria and later pursued a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Obioma’s debut novel, The Fishermen, which was a huge success. The novel tells the story of four brothers in Nigeria who are drawn into a prophecy that threatens to destroy their family.

Obioma’s second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, was also a big hit. This novel tells the story of a young poultry farmer in Nigeria who embarks on a journey to fulfill his dreams and seek redemption. Obioma is known for blending folklore and myth. He has received several awards for his writing, including the FT & Oppenheimer Award for Fiction and the ANPA/NDDC National Merit Award for Literary Excellence.

The Fishermen: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Obioma, Chigozie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 04/14/2015 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

15. Chinelo Okparanta, 1981 –

Chinelo Okparanta
Chinelo Okparanta via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Chinelo Okparanta is a Nigerian-American novelist and short story writer born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Okparanta often deals with themes of identity, sexuality, and cultural traditions. She has received the Lambda Literary Award and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. 

Okparanta’s debut novel, Under the Udala Trees, made her reputation as a writer to watch. The novel tells the story of a young woman in Nigeria who is forced to flee her home because of her same-sex relationship. Okparanta’s second work, Happiness, Like Water, is a collection of short stories that explores themes of identity, relationships, and family.

Happiness, Like Water
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Okparanta, Chinelo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 210 Pages - 08/13/2013 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

16. Nnedi Okorafor, 1974 –

Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American science fiction and fantasy writer. She was born in the United States to Nigerian immigrant parents and raised in both countries. Okorafor’s writing often draws on African mythology and culture, and she is known for creating vivid and complex worlds in her stories.

Okorafor is the author of several novels, including Who Fears Death, The Book of Phoenix, and Akata Witch. She has also written numerous short stories and novellas, many of which have been collected and published as anthologies. Okorafor’s work has received numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. In addition to her writing, Okorafor is a creative writing professor at the University of Buffalo in New York.

17. Lesley Nneka Arimah, 1983 –

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the United Kingdom and raised in Nigeria and the United States. Arimah’s writing has appeared in several publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Granta. 

She is the author of the short story collection, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, which won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. Arimah has received fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Yaddo Corporation, and the Bread LoafWriters Conference.

18. Helen Oyeyemi, 1984 –

Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. She was born in Nigeria and raised in London, England. Oyeyemi’s writing is known for its imaginative and lyrical style and exploration of themes such as identity, race, and cultural heritage. Oyeyemi’s debut novel, The Icarus Girl, was published when Helen Oyeyemi was just 21 years old.

Since then, she has published several more novels, including Mr. Fox, Boy, Snow, Bird, and Gingerbread. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards and has been translated into multiple languages. Oyeyemi has also written plays, including The Last Days of Limehouse, which premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 2019. In addition to writing, Oyeyemi has taught creative writing at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States.

19. Tola Rotimi Abraham, 1994 –

Tola Rotimi Abraham was born in the United States and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Abraham’s writing has appeared in several publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, and The Guardian. She has received fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Yaddo Corporation, and the Bread LoafWriters” Conference.

Abraham is the author of the novel, The Ablutions, which won the Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of the short story collection Hard Sand, Blue Sky and the novel Black Sunday. In her work, Abraham often explores the complexities and contradictions of contemporary Nigerian society, and she is known for her sharp and intelligent writing style.

20. Chika Unigwe, 1974 –

Chika Unigwe
Chika Unigwe via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Chika Unigwe was born in Nigeria and raised in Belgium. Unigwe’s writing often explores identity, culture, and the immigrant experience. Unigwe’s work has been widely translated and has received numerous awards and honors, including the PEN Open Book Award and the Nigeria Prize for Literature.

Unigwe is the author of several novels, including On Black Sisters Street, The Night Dancer, and The Phoenix. She has also published a collection of short stories, The Virgin of Flames. Unigwe often writes about the experiences of women and the challenges they face in a society that is often hostile to their independence and autonomy. She is known for her powerful and evocative writing style, and her work has been praised for its insight and emotional depth.

21. Jane Igharo, 1972 –

Jane Igharo is a Nigerian-Canadian writer and practicing lawyer. She was born in Nigeria and raised in Canada. Igharo’s writing often explores love, family, and cultural identity themes. Igharo’s work has been widely published and has received numerous awards, including being longlisted for the Giller Prize.

Igharo is the author of Where We End & Begin and The Way Home, a finalist for the UK’s Good Housekeeping First Novel Award and the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award. She is also the author of the novella Love in Colour, which was a finalist for the UK’s Good Housekeeping Debut Fiction Award.

22. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, 1992 –

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a Nigerian-British writer and an active journalist. She was born in Nigeria and raised in England. Àbíké-Íyímídé’s writing often explores themes of identity, race, the immigrant experience, and cultural heritage. 

Àbíké-Íyímídé is the author of the novel Ace of Spades, which was a finalist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. This novel is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of identity, tradition, and the immigrant experience, and it has been praised for its compelling characters and emotional depth.

She is also the author of the novella The Weight of a Feather, which was a finalist for the UK’s Good Housekeeping Debut Fiction Award.Àbíké-Models work has been widely published and has received numerous accolades, including being nominated for the Desmond Elliott Prize. If you enjoyed our round-up of the best Nigerian authors, we have many more articles on the best authors from around the globe. Why not check out our list of the best Kenyan authors? Or use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for authors in a country or region you are interested in.

23. Ijeoma Umebinyuo, 1979 –

Ijeoma Umebinyuo is a Nigerian writer and speaker born in Nigeria and raised in the United States. Umebinyuo’s writing often explores love, identity, and cultural heritage themes. She primarily writes poetry and essays and is the author of several collections, including Bones Will Crow and Wake Up, New Day.

Questions for Ada, a collection of essays, was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award. She is also the author of the poetry collection Bare, which was a finalist for the Arab American Book Award. In addition to her writing, Umebinyuo is a public speaker giving talks and readings at various private and public events and festivals worldwide. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best authors to follow on Twitter!

Author

  • Kate has been writing since she was 10 years old, tapping away on an old typewriter in her childhood bedroom. Today, Kate is a seasoned freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing for print and online media. She’s an avid reader and believes in the power of words to transport readers to new worlds, and inspire and nurture creativity. Kate is also a published author and is currently working on her next project.